Liberals exacerbate dispute by siding with Port Metro Vancouver, New Democrats say

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VICTORIA – The B.C. Liberals are exacerbating the dispute at Port Metro Vancouver by siding with the port in its bullying tactics of truckers, say the New Democrats.

“Port Metro Vancouver has threatened to revoke the licenses of independent truckers merely for raising legitimate concerns about how an unaccountable federal agency was treating them,” said New Democrat leader Adrian Dix. “They have nearly doubled the container storage fee, a financial threat that could cripple some of these small businesses.

“And their decision to legislate unionized truckers back to work effectively disrupted negotiations, delaying a real settlement in a dispute that is costing British Columbia jobs and revenue.”

On Monday, the Liberals introduced back-to-work legislation impacting truckers represented by Unifor. Another 1,100 independent truckers are also involved in similar disputes with the port. New Democrats raised the issue in question period Monday afternoon.

“There are fundamental, systemic issues at Port Metro Vancouver that go back years,” said New Democrat labour critic Harry Bains. “The Liberal government has known about the problems – the truckers have been trying to get the government’s attention – but no real action has been taken.

“Now, instead of supporting workers and small businesses in British Columbia, the Liberals are taking the side of a federal agency that is not treating these truckers with the respect they deserve. Months ago, the union called for a real mediator, but instead got an empty review.

“And now, as negotiations were at a sensitive stage, the government completely ignored the needs of the truckers and took the side of this unaccountable federal agency. The government needs to work with both sides to get this resolved, but they have only made it worse.”